Question Of The Week

Weigh Your Stuff: Readers Respond to our Question of the Week

This week’s Question of the Week was, “Do you weigh your stuff when you load your truck camper, or do you just load and go?”.  We received stuff spreadsheets, stuff mathematical formulas, and a bit of stuff sarcasm in response.  Let’s just say we got a lot of stuff on the question of stuff.

“Hello Angela – I do not weigh my truck camper and stuff, yet.  It’s funny you should ask this question because I had just talked with my wife and told her the next time we have our truck camper (a 1988 Six Pac) on the truck and loaded with our stuff, I was going to get it weighed.  And then I’ll go back and weigh the truck with the camper off.  I want to see how much it weighs loaded and if I need to take some of the stuff out of it.” – John Tardif, Sheridan, Wyoming

“Well, in my opinion, there should have been a third option: Do you weigh the truck and camper after you have loaded it?  The real question is what the weight of the loaded to travel rig weighs.  You cannot even inflate tires properly without that weight being known.  I wonder just how many have never weighed their rigs in travel configuration, and therefore have never properly inflated their tires?” – Don Schwanke

“While we haven’t resorted to weighing our stuff, we are very weight conscious about overloading.  We no longer bring extra stuff “just in case”.  For example, we have only one set of linens, a half set of flatware, fewer dishes, pots, and pans.  We are leaving our outdoor camp stove at home and using our truck camper’s stove top only.  We scaled down the size of a table we bring along and changed our camping chairs to a lighter, but still sturdy, aluminum model.  We are also thinking twice about the clothes and shoes we bring.  All these little things make a difference and they allow a little more room in one’s camper too.” – Paulette McCarron

“Angela – I weigh my truck camper, truck loaded with fuel, people, pets, and any towed vehicle to make sure I am within the listed ratings of my vehicles.  Individual items are not weighed because I am always under the listed numbers for a 2005 F-550 Ford PSD 6.0 quad cab with DRW.  That is why I selected this truck.  Even after my wife does a “war load” for longer trips, like last summer to the UP of Michigan, I know what the weights are at the start and mid-trip.  My highest total loading with a Macgregor 26M sailboat in tow was a bit over 20,500 of a F-550 GCVWR of 26,000 pounds. By knowing this I have some idea what kind of stopping distance I need to have the brakes to safely stop the combined loading.  Physics 1A… F=KMA” – Karl Aube

“Weighing the contents of your truck camper is absolutely common sense.  It’s a logical good idea, and I would certainly recommend doing it every time.  Fortunately, I have a finely calibrated eyeball and the unique ability to accurately estimate the contents weight within a percent or two, so I have never done it.  Never.” – R. Geers

“Hi Angela – Question: Do I weigh my stuff?  In a word, no.  This is my second truck camper.  My Adventurer is at least a foot shorter than my last one, an Elkhorn, and therefore much lighter.  Since I’m no longer a full-time RVer, I don’t have nearly as much stuff with me.  The eight years worth of income tax that I used to haul around are now in a closet at home.  I don’t fill the holding tank with water and I empty my holding tanks frequently.  My closets are not loaded with clothes, food, or reading material.  I do laundry when I need to, buy food when I’m hungry, and get rid of a book when I’m finished reading it.  Of course, I’m always thrilled when I sell off a bunch of my own words of wisdom, since I’m the author of eight adventure travel books.  I could definitely afford to lose a bunch of weight which would also lighten the load, but that ain’t goin’ to happen.” – Joei Carlton

“Angela – Funny you should ask.  I just started.  I am working on a spreadsheet.  I use a local construction company scale house and a regular scale.” – Darien Lewie

“The question of the week inquired whether a person weighed each item as they loaded or if they just loaded and went.  I suspect that for folks who do weigh, they do it after loading, at a certified scale.

Even with all the information available on the internet, it is still difficult to know what a truck or camper will weigh, once it is obtained.  Trying to guesstimate the actual truck weight and actual camper weight before purchase is even harder.  If I had a penny for every hour I spent researching the actual expected weight of my Ford and my Bigfoot Camper, I could treat us both at Starbucks.

The rule of thumb of adding 1,000 pounds to the wet weight of your camper is probably not a bad starting point.  The weight of a lot of stuff one needs to have can’t be found in advance.  Where is the weight of a rubber bed mat published?  The weight of the camper tie downs?  The hitch basket used to carry the firewood, not to mention the wood itself?

In my instance, weighing on a scale with full tanks, passengers, etc. came to 400 pounds more than I’d estimated, fortunately still within the GVWR of my truck.” – David Schmitt

“I count every ounce when I backpack.  We have a truck camper so we can travel, camp, and explore in relative luxury.  I weighed my rig with a typical camping load when I first set it up, and know I am within my wheel, tire, and axle rating.  That is good enough for me because our load does not change drastically for any particular trip.  In fact, I am more likely to take stuff out if I find we have not needed it, or are unlikely to use it, so I don’t really worry about.  If I found my truck was handling strangely, then I would head straight for the scales to check it out.” – Bill Tex

“We are first time truck campers.  About five years ago we decided that we would soon want something a little more comfortable than tent camping and that when we retired we would get a truck camper.  We wanted something that would give us as much flexibility and freedom in reaching out of the way places like our tent camping did and a truck camper seemed just the thing.

We did a lot of research on camper dry weights and truck payloads, and while we did not actually weigh anything, we did spend a fair amount of time making estimates of the weight of our stuff.  We eventually decided on a Ford F450 and a fully equipped Lance 1055.  We took our first camping trip last week, a short three night trip to a reservoir not too far from Lake Tahoe.  Our first stop after leaving home was at a truck scale to see what our fully loaded gross weight and front and rear axle weights were and how good our estimates had been.

F450 GVWR = 14,500 pounds
Total weight of truck and fully loaded Lance 1055 = 13,940 pounds

F450 front GAWR = 6,500 pounds
Front axle weight of truck and fully loaded Lance 1055 = 5,660 pounds

F450 rear GAWR = 9,500 pounds
Rear axle weight of truck and fully loaded Lance 1055 = 8,280 pounds

It was very comforting to finally find out that all the research we had done and the estimates we made had left us well within the weight limits of the truck.  We also have the ability to carry some extras we have been considering without being concerned about a pound here or there.  We love our new rig and thoroughly enjoyed our first trip.  In a couple weeks we’ll be heading out for some boondocking in northeastern California.” – GVGeode

“Hi Angela – We don’t weigh individual stuff, but we have weighed the whole rig with us in it when heading out on a trip.  We know how much the truck weighs so it is easy to figure out the camper’s weight.  I have also weighed our rig’s front and rear wheels weight.  Both empty and loaded we know pretty close where we are weight wise.  That’s close enough for me.” – Chuck

“We do not.  As organized as my wife is with checklists and contents lists, this is still a heck of a thing to get done and keep updated.  Then again, we bought our truck specifically for the camper, and deliberately overbought on payload.  I can see the value to this though.  I heard this story, maybe someone can confirm and elaborate on this, that one of the manufacturers, went to a truck camper rally and offered some campers some kind of compensation for them to empty every item out of their campers to be weighed, and everyone who did this was way heavier than they estimated.  I can see it being very easy for those pounds to add up a little here and a little there.” – Rob and Kathy Lang, Vernon, New Jersey

“We just load and go.  Pull into a scale.  There are many along the highways when you are loaded.  We pulled into a self weighing station and weighed every thing including us.  The dogs never had to worry from then on.  Most of the people at these stations will weigh you if you ask before.” – Boris Kelly

“Hi Angela – Well, we don’t weigh things individually.  While on a trip a couple years ago I stopped at a scale and weighed the truck and camper.  We had all our junk with us and a full fuel tank, full fridge, full pantry, full water, and full propane tanks.  I guess we were pretty well loaded to the hilt.  Looking at the weight and how it was distributed on each axle, we determined that we were well within the capacity of the truck.  I later weighed just the truck alone without the camper so I could subtract that weight to find out what the weight of the loaded camper was.  I could see that some folks might want to weigh individual items if they are close to or over the capacity of the truck but since we were well within the limits it would be a waste of time for us to do so.  That was a good question because you are a safer person on the road by being within the limits of your truck. We have a Lance 920 on a Dodge 3500 dually quad cab.” – John Bull

“Oh please.  All I have to say is, “Obsessive–compulsive”!  These people have way to much time on their hands.  I think people need to spend more time camping and less time thinking about getting ready to go camping.” – Stanly Bagel

“Dear TCM – I didn’t weigh all the stuff I put in my camper, but I will start to do that with my next big trip this year.  My 2006 F350 dually with a GVWR of 13,000 pounds with my Lance 921 camper was over 13,000 pounds this last trip.  We had a lot of stuff that we never used, so we made a short list with what to bring and what not to bring.  And, yes, we will be weighing our stuff.  The trip this year was three months from Savannah, Georgia to Alaska and back, of course.” – Rob and Georgia

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